what is the difference between a stray and a feral cat/kitten?
A feral cat is a cat that was born in the wild/outdoors and has conceivably had little to no human interaction. While most feral cats are un-socialized and afraid of humans, some are born tame. Often times if their bloodline is not very far from a tame cat, genetically the cat could be tame or if the cat had interaction with humans as a young kitten. Feral kittens under the age of 8 weeks are easily socialized in foster homes. After the age of 8 weeks it gets increasingly harder to socialize them but it's not impossible. If your willing to put in the time and effort it will take to socialize a kitten(s) over 8 weeks you also must be prepared to having to TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) the kitten(s) within a timely manner if they do not become friendly or having to keep the kitten(s) if they do not come around.
A stray cat is a cat that has been lost or abandoned outside, has had previous interaction with humans and is typically not afraid of people. Stray cats are often friendly with humans, they usually allow petting and handling but some may revert to feral tendencies as a means of survival once abandoned in the wild. The only way to truly tell if a cat/kitten(s) is not feral is to evaluate the cat/kitten(s) indoors.
- DO NOT bring a cat indoors to evaluate and let loose in your home or even a room. This will be overwhelming and the most friendly cats will act feral. Cat/kitten(s) should be trapped with a humane animal trap then crated in a medium to large dog crate that can fit food, water, a litter box and a small carrier. - DO NOT transfer feral cats to crates without help from an experienced person.
What do I do if I find a litter or newborn kittens unattended during the day?
During 'Kitten Season' the calls about newborn kittens being found all alone during the day flood rescue and shelter hotlines. These kittens under the age of 6 weeks have the highest mortality rate in shelters across the U.S. as they are too young to eat on their own, eliminate urine or defecate on their own and can not regulate their own body temperatures. Depending on their age they need to be fed anywhere from every 2-4 hours and with a lack of fosters who are able to provide this round the clock care to orphaned newborn kittens, their fate is often grim.
First, decide if the newborn kittens are in immediate and grave danger, i.e about to be attacked by wildlife or in an area about to be demolished or its wintery conditions outside. Grave danger does not mean that there is just no Mom cat around. Second, wait and watch for a Mom cat lurking about in an area where she can not see you like inside the house from a window. Mom will not come out if she knows you are there. Very often Mom will head out during the daytime to look for food to feed herself. She most likely has spent the last 12 or more hours nursing her kittens non-stop. Typically, Mom cats will come back to the kittens around dusk or even a little later. Kittens in the wild can survive long periods like this without food as long as they are warm and dry. If the kittens are still alone after dusk they may need human intervention. Maddie's Fund offers many free online tutorials to the public, the 'Orphaned Kitten Care How to' videos and 'Caring for Orphaned Kittens' guide are both excellent tools. If you take the kittens indoors to feed them and get onto a heating pad, ensure that you are still looking out for the Mother periodically. If you see a cat frantically walking around, its most likely her and you should place the kittens outside where you found them. Mom will move then after she knows that the kittens were found therefore its important to communicate with neighbors to keep their eye out so that Mom can be spayed through local Trap-Neuter-Return programs and the kittens can be placed with a rescue once they are 6 weeks old and can eat on their own. The kittens best chance for survival at that neonatal age is with their Mother.
Can tender loving cats take a cat or kitten i found on the street?
Found friendly adult cats, in good health/body condition may be someone's pet. Please follow the steps outlined in the 'Lost & Found Resource' page. In a perfect world, we would like help every cat and kitten that needs us but since we are not a shelter we can not simply take in animals directly from the street. As a foster based rescue, which means that all cats and kittens are fostered in a home until they adopted, we can only help place cats & kittens for adoption if we have a foster lined up to hold them. If we have available foster parents and volunteers willing to TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) the adult feral cats or if you are willing to learn how, then we can accept found friendly cat(s) after every effort has been made to find it's possible owner or feral kitten(s) under the age of 8 weeks of age who test negative for FeLV into our adoption program. The process of finding placement for the cat/kitten(s) with our rescue will be easier if you offer to foster until a home is found and TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) the feral adults yourself. We will provide you with coaching and advise throughout this process. If we do not have available fosters and you are unable to foster yourself, then we advise that you start calling every other reputable no-kill rescue on Long Island, NY as well as and including as far up north up to Maine. At the very least the found cat/kitten(s) should be TNR'ed (spayed/neutered, ear-tipped and returned outdoors) to stop the cycle of homelessness.
HOW DO I SOCIALIZE FERAL KITTENS OVER 8 WEEKS?
Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, here is a link to the best "socializing feral cats" video on the internet called Tough Love, Socializing Feral Kittens. Again, after the age of 8 weeks it gets increasingly harder to socialize feral kitten(s) but it's not impossible. If you're willing to put in the time and effort it will take to socialize feral kitten(s) over 8 weeks you also must be prepared to potentially have to TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) the kitten(s) within a timely manner if they do not become friendly or you will have to keep the kitten(s) if they do not come around. Evaluations should be made within 2 weeks and after a month of being indoors they must be "soft" released over a 6–12 week process.
What is TNR?
You can learn more about "Trap-Neuter-Return" by clicking here.
What does it mean to relocate a feral cat?
It is common misbelief that relocating a feral cat from a place where they do not appear to have food or shelter and releasing them to a location that does may be helpful or in the best interest of that feral cat. Like humans, cats are creatures of habit, they will immediately try and find familiar surroundings, which sadly they never do. They will walk and walk and walk to try and get back home, guided by the rising & setting of the sun. This journey is often not one they survive. It is better to either release the cat where they were trapped, as they can survive better in their known territory whether you can find its food source or not or find a safe place like a barn or backyard that is not on of around a main road by doing a "soft release".
Please Note: Tender Loving Cats, Inc. does NOT recommend relocating feral cats unless it is a matter of life and death, all other options have been exhausted, and you are prepared to 'soft release' for a period of up to 6 weeks.*
Unfortunately, relocating a feral cat is not as simple as trapping and moving him/her. Trapping and relocating a feral cat without any further involvement is known as a “hard release”, where on the other paw a “soft release” requires more thought and commitment. When carrying out a “soft release”, the feral cat(s) must be contained in an cattery or cage that will provide shelter from the elements, house a litterbox, and a warm hideout with food and water that allows the cat(s) to observe their surroundings. The feeder will want to feed the cat(s) at the same time every day as they are habitual creatures. The next 2-6 weeks, the cat must transition to this new environment from within its container. Within that time the cat will begins to acknowledging the feeder’s routine (typically by meowing or coming to the front of the cage when the feeder approaches with food), once the feeder is confident they have been established as a trusted feeder it may be time to release the cat(s) into their new environment. Often a cat may not return to feed for several days and then will come back for feeding time like clockwork, but there is still that 50/50 chance they’ve flown the nest for good and will never come back.
How can I obtain a low cost spay/neuter for a feral cat?
First, see if your township offers free or low-cost spay/neuter for cats. Click here for our local directory. If your township does not have a program or waitlists are too long we strongly urge you to attend your local town hall meetings and advocate that townships start offering free spay/neuter of feral cats as well as low-cost spay/neuter for owned cats, and for hiring trappers. If we begin spending tax dollars to do this, the feral cat population's growth can be decreased and the cats will suffer much less and resultantly be less of a nuissance to the public. Also check our info pages Private No-Kill Rescues & TNR Programs and our Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Veterinarians!
Secondly, if you are able-bodied and willing to trap we can provide you with guidance on how to trap, lend you traps, and help pay for the spay/neuter through our PAL Program (Prevent A Litter).
The Prevent A Litter (P.A.L) Program aims to provide low-cost spay/neutering for feral cats and owned cats of low-income individuals residing on Long Island, NY in an attempt to curb the numbers of homeless cats & kittens born on Long Island’s streets every year. Individuals who qualify will pay a discounted rate of $25/cat or kitten at a local participating veterinarian. You can fill out and submit a quick form here to see if you qualify.
What is the difference between an Animal rescue and an animal Shelter?
A shelter is federally funded by your tax dollars and is prepared to accept and treat sick animals. An animal shelter is staffed with employees who are trained and able to care for sick animals as well as having a Veterinarian on staff. They have the ability to separate any sick animals and maintained an environment that will protect healthy animals from exposure to illnesses. Rescues typically do not have the ability to isolate animals of unknown health status apart from others. An animal rescue adoption locations typically have already been treated for any health problems prior to being placed up for adoption, as well as have been previously tested for FIV/FeLV, vaccinated and spayed/neutered.
Can Tender Loving cats, inc. take my cat/kitten I can no longer keep?
Tender Loving Cats, Inc. mission is to rescue homeless cat/kitten(s). Therefore, we cannot accept pets that people wish to surrender. It is important that we adhere to our mission statement because we would be misrepresenting ourselves to do otherwise. “Tender Loving Cats, Inc. is an all-volunteer, not-for-profit 501(c)(3), no-kill feline rescue, concentrating on reducing Long Island's community cat population through Trap-Neuter-Return and the rehabilitation of homeless cats and kittens for adoption.” Please contact your local town shelter if you wish to surrender your pet. If your pet is surrendered to a town shelter, ask for the case number so that you can continue to reach out to rescues to try and pull your cat/kitten. When contacting rescues it’s important to include a good picture, a video depicting the cat/kitten(s) personality, age, sex and indicate what vetting the cat/kitten(s) has had done.